CHI St. Alexius Health officials on Tuesday said three critically ill patients are improving after they received transfusions of plasma from recovered coronavirus patients on Saturday. Two of the patients have been taken off ventilators since they received the convalescent plasma treatment. The third patient is still on a ventilator but requires less oxygen to be pumped, an encouraging sign, according to hospital officials.
The treatment is part of a national clinical trial led by the Mayo Clinic to test the effect of blood plasma in treating COVID-19. The use of plasma is for hospitalized patients with severe cases of the coronavirus disease. Antibodies in the plasma may lessen the severity or shorten the length of the illness caused by the virus, said Dr. J’Patrick Fahn, director of hospital and critical care medicine at CHI St. Alexius.
Convalescent plasma treatment has been around for more than 100 years and can be effective at treating other diseases, but so far there is no data to show its efficacy at treating COVID-19. The plasma administered to the three CHI patients was acquired from the New York Blood Center. North Dakota has no convalescent plasma in the state. Dr. Lisa Laurent, chief medical officer for CHI St. Alexius, said the plasma came from New York due to the high number of cases there. In the future, it might come from other states or might need to be acquired in-state.
“A message that we want to send to the community is: We need plasma,” Laurent said.
She encouraged recovered coronavirus patients to call the American Red Cross or Vitalant after talking to their primary care physician about donating blood for the treatment.
Bilal Suleiman Reporting
The Bismarck Tribune
Three patients at CHI St. Alexius treated with plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients
A promising but unproven method of treating COVID-19 patients has been used a handful of times in North Dakota. CHI St. Alexius Health says on Saturday, three critically ill coronavirus patients received plasma transfusions from donors who recovered from COVID-19 in New York. The medical provider says the plasma came to North Dakota via the New York Blood Center. CHI St. Alexius was eligible to receive that plasma because of its enrollment in the Mayo Clinic Research Clinical Trial.
The experimental plasma treatments are believed to help reduce the severity of symptoms of COVID-19. Dr. Lisa Laurent, the Chief Medical Officer for the hospital, says two of the three patients who received plasma transfusions no longer require ventilator assistance. Dr. Laurent encourages North Dakotans who have recovered from the coronavirus to contact the American Red Cross or Vitalant to learn about donating plasma to help active COVID-19 patients.
Tim Olson Reporting
ND hospitals treating COVID-19 patients with plasma
Hospitals in North Dakota have started a new treatment method for critical cases of COVID-19 as part of a national clinical trial led by mayo clinic. COVID-19 patients across the country have been receiving plasma transfusions. North Dakota is now doing the same. So far, CHI St. Alexius treated three patients with plasma on Saturday and Sanford Health treated one patient with plasma on Monday. The CHI patients were all on ventilators before the treatments and two out of the three no longer need ventilators to breathe.
"Essentially, we're taking blood products - in this case the plasma of folks that have had the disease before and have recovered - and now their blood contains antibodies to fight the disease," said CHI St. Alexius Hospital Director and Critical Care Medicine Director Dr. J’Patrick Fahn.
Patients with COVID-19 can be treated with plasma from recovered patients if they meet a certain criteria. However, meeting the criteria doesn't necessarily mean they can be treated. North Dakota doesn't have a supply of plasma due to the lower number of recovered patients in our state. Due to this, health care providers are asking North Dakotans who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate their plasma.
To donate plasma, you can call the American Red Cross or your primary care physician.
Emmeline Ivy Reporting